Disclosure: We were invited to attend a conference called Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, we paid a nominal fee to learn more about Disney and other conference sponsors.
During our recent visit, I learned a ton about planning a Disney trip. We decided to put together a couple of our tips we have learned along the way of having recently planning our first Disney World trip.
- Stay on property. I didn’t expect to be sharing this tip, because for my WHOLE life I was told that staying off property was the smartest, most budget friendly way to go. Well, I’m here to bust that myth wide open. Staying on property is smart, and honestly the price wasn’t much more. One hotel we stayed at (All Star Music Resort) was just over 100.00 a night. Here are the advantages I observed: early park entry hours (some days they have “extra magical hours” so you get extra hours in the park! Being able to utilize Disney’s Magical Express- this one was a major perk for us, because it meant we didn’t need to bring our kids car seats for our journey. The bus picked us up at the airport, it transported us to the park every morning, and we were able to get our boarding passes at the bus stop before heading to the airport. (They will also take your checked luggage from the airport to your resort and vice versa.) By staying at a Disney property, you can also book your Fast Passes and meal reservations 60 days in advance as opposed to 30 days when you stay off site. When you’re weighing the pros and cons of each, don’t forget the traffic component and the fees associated with parking every day. Staying on property is, quite frankly, pretty magical.
- Schedule an in park breakfast before the park opens one morning. We did this the morning we did Hollywood Studios, it was really great for us. It allowed us to get the first round of Jedi training you could sign up for! (Which is basically the only reason our five year old went to Disney World.) The earlier you can get into the park in the morning, the more rides and less lines you can enjoy! This also allows you to meet characters without waiting in lengthy lines.
- Head to a park after naptime and stay until they close. We shut Magic Kingdom down one night, and it was INCREDIBLE. We rode rides while others watched the fireworks and we got more rides in between 9-10 pm. Everything was so beautiful, and we were in no rush so we didn’t feel anxiety to do every single thing.
- Splurge on the park hopper pass. I wouldn’t get too excited to visit multiple parks in one day, but I do think the park hopper option gives you a way better value. We tried to schedule one park per day, and that schedule was really great for our family.
- Don’t forget the water parks! My husband and boys went while I was in conferences, and still say it was their favorite park. It has all the Disney magic you expect, without the lines.
- Meet Characters at Epcot Character center (and get a Fastpass for it!)
- So, a reader asked my thoughts on the meal plan: I think its value really depends on how much your family eats. For us, we found it to be a better value to split up a lot of things. Me and my three old shared kids meals, and we all took advantage of the free water throughout the parks. Whereas when you do the meal plan, you can choose something like one entree, two sides, a mug, etc. The meal plan would have been an excellent value for my husband and my oldest son. That was just not a splurge we could make, considering we were in Disney for 10 days. So, my advice would be: having groceries delivered to use as snacks and then sharing meals throughout the park.
- Everyone wants to know about stroller choice. We opted to not bring or rent strollers. We took plenty of breaks and didn’t feel in a Disney rush. If you’re interested in renting one, I’d suggest researching rental agencies that will deliver a nice stroller to your resort. It seemed more affordable, and a higher quality stroller.
- Have realistic expectations. I feel like “expectations” are something I mention in every single blog post about traveling with kids. Remember, you brought your kids to the most magical place on earth to relax, rejuvenate, and create memories. Give yourself marginal time throughout your days to rest!
- Get your family free pins to wear throughout the park. We got our kids the “first visit” pins, they are HUGE and make a great FREE souvenir but also throughout the park when cast members spot those pins they always try to add a little pixie dust.
- Download the Disney World app. I don’t usually advocate for downloading apps for your vacations, because you should be in the moment (not on your phone) but the Disney World is everything. Fast pass scheduling (or cancelling when you realize the line isn’t long and you can save your Fast Pass for another ride.) there is a map on the app, and you can even order your food from some quick service restaurants and just pick it up at the window. (bye, bye line waiting.)
These are just a few hacks I wanted to share this week, I’ll be adding another post similar to this one in a few weeks!